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The consul argues the defendant's due process rights were violated

Could the highest profile music piracy case to be brought against an individual in the U.S. be headed to The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS)? That's the outcome lawyers for working mom Jammie Thomas-Rasset are hoping for.

The defendant's legal team has filed a petition for certiorari claiming that their client's right to due process has been violated.  The case has been kicked around the courts for some time.

Ms. Thomas-Rasset first lost in a June 2009 jury verdict, with the jury deciding on a $1.92M USD fine, arguing that lawyers for music labels like Sony Corp.'s (TYO:6758) BMG and their trade group the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has sufficiently proved that the working mom had willfully-infringed on 24 songs.

After the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) approved the verdict, the matter seemed settled, setting a rather draconian precedent.  But a judge cut the fine to a mere $54,000 USD.

Then it was deja vu all over again -- the case went to retrial, a jury found Ms. Thomas-Rasset guilty of another huge fine ($1.5M USD, this time), and then the judge yet again bumped the fine to $54,000 USD.

Jammie Thomas-Rasset
Jammie Thomas-Rasset (left) [Image Source: joonbug]

Most recently the RIAA, et al. appealed the reduction, and the fine was bumped back slightly to $222,000 USD, where it currently sits.  That appeal prompted Ms. Thomas-Rasset's lawyers to ask the SCOTUS to hear the case.

The defendant's lawyers cite State Farm v. Campbell, BMW v. Gore, and St. Louis I.M. & S. Railway Co. v. Williams as relevant cases.  These cases all involved the plaintiff seeking a large amount of punitive damages (for example Dr. Ira Gore sued BMW and initially won $4M USD in punitive damages after BMW sold him a repainted vehicle and claimed it was new).  In each case the SCOTUS ruled that there should be reasonable limits, based on the scope of the civil offense, to punitive damages.

The RIAA and big media backers are estimated to have spent over $3M USD on the case; Ms. Thomas-Rasset has received much of her legal services and fees paid for via donations.

Source: RIAA v. The People



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RE: truly asinine
By ComputerJuice on 12/13/2012 4:10:02 PM , Rating: 5
Yeah, but...

Honestly what I do not understand is why if you physically steal something you pay less than if you "steal" something digital. A court settlement fee (in my area) for minor theft is something like a $500 fine plus 2x the amount of the stolen item. I believe that the fine is split 50/50 between the court and the victim with the 2x award being handed to the victim. So, In her case it would be like $550-ish & a mark on her record. I don't blame her for going to court when an album worth of material digitally is at $.99 per song $24. You get served a random piece of mail asking for $5000... Seems like BS to me. If the extortionists that went after her would have sent a fine for a rational amount they would have been paid. My personal feelings about extortion aside... if they were to set theses "fines" (should be called licensing fee) to a reasonable, and I mean an amount less than it would conceivably cost to fight it in court, they would probably would just get paid by the bulk of "the infringing". It would still be BS in my opinion, but would likely net big content some coin as opposed to the legal hole they seem to keep throwing money into. I guess I'm glad it has gone the way it has... provided the supreme court rules in a manner that is fair.


RE: truly asinine
By ilt24 on 12/13/12, Rating: 0
RE: truly asinine
By ComputerJuice on 12/14/2012 1:02:29 AM , Rating: 2
I admit I am not 100% clear as to what exactly she did do...
I suppose it matters more if did she ripped a cd and put it up on a file share. I thought she downloaded the songs and left them in a shared folder. Viewed from one angle its the same, from another its different. One is "infringement", the other is essentially counterfeiting. Regardless, 50k - 1.5 mil still seems way beyond excessive.


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